Friday, November 25, 2011

Steps to Heaven - Review

I paid for a download of Steps to Heaven after reading an author interview.

I like police procedural stories and Wendy Cartmell's had the bonus of military police, too. The interaction between the civil and military was interesting. The settings were well described as were most of the characters.

Story (from the book page): Sergeant Major Crane, is a Special Investigations Branch Detective in the British Army, based at Aldershot Garrison. Crane is disturbed by the horrific case of a soldier who, after recently returning from Afghanistan, murdered his wife and 6 year old son and then committed suicide. It seems Solomon was attending a local Church, offering salvation. But as Crane investigates and the body count rises, events take a darker turn and he wonders if the Church is offering salvation, or slaughter...?

Unfortunately the story had few surprises for me, and I didn't like the protagonist who seemed borderline bipolar. He rarely just spoke to anyone: he shouted and stomped, was sarcastic and couldn't sit still. He was unreasonably irritated by anything that didn't seem to go his way. Maybe this is something that will be developed in future books (this is the first of a series).

That Wendy Cartmell wrote the story in present tense would have been okay if there hadn't been slip ups and sentences with both present and past tense. A copy editor would have been helpful to catch this and to correct the absence of commas ("Oh by the way Crane..." and many others), the misspelled words (waives should have been waves, and others), and awkward phrases ("squalling showers," "the syntaxes in his brain start to pop," and others).

I always try to take off my editor hat when reading, but some of these problems distracted me from the story. Nonetheless, with a fast pace and plenty of action, Steps of Heaven is an energetic beginning for a new mystery writer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Corsair (Outer Pendulum, Part 1) – Review

I paid for a download of Corsair after reading a 200-word excerpt on Indie Snippets.

This short-story length hard science fiction, takes place on a flagship of an armada. I'm not a big fan of hard SF, and the Indie Snippet's post didn't really indicate this genre. The snippet spoke of slavery and mining colonies. Nonetheless, I read on, pleased by the competent writing and good descriptions.

The Commander of the armada, Eli Saffinger, is well described both physically and emotionally. He has revenge on his mind, as he hopes to engage the alien commander who destroyed a cruise liner, killing more than 1000 people. The battle scene is quickly set, and proceeds with action fit for a TV screen.

It was all over rather quickly and I think it should have been fleshed out to at least be a novella (~60,000 words). It ends with hints of more to come (This is Part 1, after all).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Blood Country - Review

I downloaded the electronic edition of Blood Country when I found it as a freebie (a short-lived occurrence) on an e-book site. The printed edition had been published by Walker Publishing Company, Inc. in 1999, and I might have enjoyed the book a bit more if I'd read that version.

Story: Claire Watkins is living in a small Wisconsin town with her daughter, Meg, after her husband's death--an unsolved murder. She works for the county sheriff's department and enjoys small town police work after having been a detective in the Twin Cities. But life changes on two fronts when her elderly neighbor is murdered in his yard; then her daughter admits she saw the man who drove the truck that ran over her father. Claire calls her ex-partner to help her with the new evidence about her husband's murder while she works on solving the small town killing.

Mary Logue is a very good wordsmith; the descriptions and sense of place were well crafted. Character differences made all the people in the story easy to recognize. For me, however, there were too many points of view; some where internal thoughts that could have been better served to come out in dialog with the principal character. Because of this, the story bogged down in many places, and the tension and action didn't live up to the title Blood Country.

Most aggravating were the many errors in the text. It was obvious the e-book layout hadn't been vetted. face most times came out as fece; missing punctuation was jarring as well as sections of dialogue that weren't separated into paragraphs. I find it very disappointing when a publishing company (in this case, Tyrus Books – F+W Media, Inc, Adams Media [all the same, I guess]) sloughs the work of creating a good final product. And they have the nerve to charge more than $7.00 for it! Hopefully, they'll go in and make the corrections--an advantage to e-books that more publishers should utilize.